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IKEA Korea apologizes for controversy over "Sea of Japan" map

By KH디지털2

Published : Nov. 19, 2014 - 14:42

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IKEA Korea, the local unit of Swedish furniture giant IKEA, apologized on Wednesday for a controversial map on its website and one of its products that marked the water between South Korea and Japan only as "Sea of Japan."

"I would like to take a moment to apologize for the issue we have created to name East Sea only... (as) Sea of Japan. We are aware of the seriousness and again apologize for it," retail manager Andre Schmidtgall said in a press conference.

"We are in close contact with our product developers to see if we can find solutions for the map for this wall decoration."

But he said his company will not recall products with the controversial map already sold around the world.

After IKEA Korea unveiled the list of its products on its website last week, the Swedish company came under fire as a wall decoration item featured a world map with "Sea of Japan" instead of "East Sea."

Its newly opened Korean-language homepage also posted the same world map, fueling the criticism against the company.

South Korea and Japan have locked horns for decades over the name of the body of water, with Seoul calling it the "East Sea" while Tokyo uses the name "Sea of Japan."

Adding to the map issue, its pricing policy also has caused backlash among South Korean customers who have long waited for the entry of the build-it-yourself furniture company.

People have complained of the prices of popular IKEA products that were found to be more expensive than those sold in the United States and other countries.

They have noted that a TV desk named Besta Burs is priced at 449,000 won (US$408) on the IKEA Korea page, while it costs $249 in the U.S. and 378,000 won in Japan.

However, IKEA Korea said it has no plan to change the price tags, claiming it has set appropriate prices after considering foreign exchange rates, import tariffs and local sales tax.

"It is very much market specific pricing," said sales manager Andrew Johnson. "We will go ahead with the prices. We are offering the lowest price products."

He said IKEA Korea will sell 8,600 home furnishing goods and decorating items that are cheaper than those sold by parallel importers.

Its first South Korean showroom will open in Gwangmyeong, on the southern outskirts of Seoul, on Dec. 18. It will be the biggest IKEA store throughout the world.

IKEA Korea refused to disclose its sales target for next year in South Korea, while its headquarters posted 44.5 trillion won in sales in 2013. (Yonhap)